The Influenced :
Social Media, Search and the
Interplay of Consideration and
An exploration of a custom research study from comScore, GroupM Search &
M80 : The Influenced: Social Media, Search and the Interplay of Consideration
and Consumption, October 2009.
Authored by Chris Copeland, CEO, GroupM Search - The Americas
Published by GroupM Search
The Interplay Of Search And Social Media
Background and Opportunity: Synergy Between Social and Search
The allocation of media budgets from offline media to online media has accelerated, as
has consumer and brand use of social media. Search marketing, the fastest-growing
and most-efficient, measurable channel in digital media, captures consumers’ expres-
sion of intent. Similarly, social media is an open canvas of consumer expression in fo-
rums and platforms consumers relate to and are naturally spending time. As advertisers
seek innovative ways to drive consumer engagement with greater efficiency, the integra-
tion of social media and search marketing offers a compelling opportunity for advertisers
to actively participate in social media and make their brand a natural part of online con-
versation. Advertisers can then capture this audience more efficiently with paid search,
driving a better return on investment (ROI).
The study sought to explore:
• When consumers are ex-
posed to social media and
influenced social media, are
they more likely to search,
and, when they do, more
likely to engage?
• Does social media exposure
influence search behavior
by driving search queries Consideration
further down the purchase
funnel where consumers are Preference
more likely to convert?
• Is there a synergy between Action
influenced social media and
search marketing that drives Loyalty
better performance than
The research explored the impact of social media on search behavior over a three-
month period across different verticals, including automotive, consumer packaged goods
Search behavior was broken into segments based on where queries fell among stages
of the purchase funnel. This included upper-funnel terms expressing awareness and
consideration (industry relevant terms, general product attributes) to lower-funnel terms
expressing action and loyalty (campaign brand terms, brand product terms).
October 2009 4
The Results: Social
Media Influences Search
CONSUMER SEGMENTS Behavior & Performance
In addition to total internet users, consumers
were divided into three segments: The study showed searchers who
Paid: Consumers exposed only to a brand’s engage with social media, espe-
paid search cially those exposed to a brand’s
influenced social media, are far
Social: Consumers exposed to social media
relevant to a brand’s category more likely to search for lower-fun-
nel terms compared to consumers
• A blog, message board/forum, user review,
who do not engage with social me-
social networking site, Twitter/micro-blog-
ging, or video-sharing site. Also includes a dia. Further, consumers exposed
to brand’s social marketing program’s “target” a brand’s influenced social media
sites, or sites which have the most natural and paid search programs are
potential to hold content about a brand. 2.8x more likely to search for that
Influenced Social: consumers exposed brand’s products compared to us-
to influenced social media specific to a brand ers who only saw paid search.
• Identified sites containing distributed social
marketing content of a brand’s social media The study also showed a 50 per-
program cent CTR increase in paid search
when consumers were exposed to
influenced social media and paid
search. This revealed consumers exposed to social media are more likely to click on a
brand’s paid search ad compared to those exposed to the brand’s paid search alone.
Among searchers using a brand’s product name in the query, the CTR increased from
4.5 percent to 11.8 percent when users were exposed to both influenced social media
and paid search around a brand.
The amount of time spent online varied drastically among the consumer segments. Of
consumers participating in social media, those exposed to a brand’s influenced social
media spent 20 percent more time online compared to those exposed only to social
media relevant to a brand’s cat-
egory. Consumers exposed to both a
brand’s influenced social media and
paid search spent almost 3x more
time online than the average con-
One of the key findings the study
revealed is that social media expo-
sure is correlated with lower-funnel
Consumers exposed to social
media – both relevant to a brand and influenced social – were far more likely to search
for brand and product-related terms. Among lower-funnel searches for campaign brand
terms, there was a 19-point lift in searcher penetration (measurement of consumers
who might use a search engine) by consumers exposed to relevant social media and a
October 2009 5
brand’s search ad compared to those exposed to a brand’s search ad alone. This then
jumped an additional 13 points when consumers were exposed to both influenced social
media and paid search, for a total of 32-point lift in searcher penetration.
Among lower-funnel searches for brand product terms, there was a 15-point lift in
searcher penetration by users exposed to relevant social media and the brand’s search
ad conducted compared to those exposed to the brand’s search ad alone. The con-
sumer’s propensity to search for brand product terms significantly spiked when exposed
to both influenced social media and a brand’s search ad, with a staggering 42-point
increase in searcher penetration.
Search penetration higher up the funnel for general product attributes wasn’t strong,
showing only a 3 percent penetration for consumers exposed to a brand’s paid search
only. However, this increased dramatically when consumers were exposed to both influ-
enced social media and a brand’s paid search, jumping 21 points to 24 percent.
Shedding some light into the intention expressed by these segments, the study showed
searchers who use social media are more engaged overall and more likely to be looking
for places to buy and brands to consider. Consumers using social media are 1.7x more
likely to search with the intension of making a list of brands or products to consider pur-
chasing compared to the average internet user.
• Consumers exposed to influenced social and paid search exhibit 223 percent heavier
search behavior than consumers exposed to paid alone
• 50 percent of social-media exposed searchers search daily for product terms compared
to 33 percent of non-exposed searchers
• In organic search, consumers searching on brand product terms who have been exposed
to a brand’s social marketing campaign are 2.4x more likely to click on organic links lead-
ing to the advertiser’s site than the average user seeing a brand’s paid search ad alone.
October 2009 6
As consumers spend more time online and fragment their attention away from tradition-
al media channels, the stakes have never been greater for marketers. Media delivery
has an established place in the media mix. However, with new forms of media delivery,
such as paid search, and the increased relevance of media discovery, the mix is clearly
changing. Likewise, the value and investments being made between paid media and the
creation and dissemination of owned and earned media is also evolving.
This research clearly shows a direct correlation between social media and paid search.
As expected, social media exposes consumers to brands, their products, the benefits of
their features, and values represented by company and product alike. It clearly pres-
ents a powerful and often under-tapped way for brands to become part of the consid-
eration set. This is an important learning because it helps set the place for social – not
as a conversion or direct response channel, but rather as an exposure and awareness
vehicle. In doing this, it helps better clarify the types of assets needed and the value
exchange that should exist between brand and consumer.
In using these learnings as a guide, we start to appreciate and act on
better allocation of financial and brand investments for the betterment
of paid media and overall performance.
It also becomes clear that while search remains the dominant direct response channel,
it is sometimes forced to do a job best suited elsewhere. The long tail exists in search,
and all campaigns can aspire to have deeper keyword lists. But simply throwing dollars
at the tail, which often represents the upper funnel, does not guarantee better ROI. As
the study indicated, social media programs, which create an influence over consideration
by consumers, proves to be a valuable tool in brand and product queries and CTR.
Media mix allocation inside these digital channels presents a new and unique oppor-
tunity for brand differentiation. Where search provides 160 characters of text for com-
munication, the opportunity now exists to use social media to influence consideration
and capture the growth through more-educated spending around product attributes and
brand and product terms, where query share and CTR is increased.
Many marketers are struggling with seemingly conflicted views of investing in owned
assets against the ROI void which seems to exist. What this data shows is that when
viewed through the collective performance of earned and owned assets, driving more
engagement in the purchase funnel and subsequently buying through the specific paid
media represented by paid search engine marketing, the decision is an easy one.
As we move away from simply relying on paid media and exploit our brands and their
owned assets, the business of media discovery becomes a reality. In using these learn-
ings as a guide, we start to appreciate and act on better allocation of financial and brand
investments for the betterment of paid media and overall performance.
About GroupM Search
GroupM Search is the search marketing specialist division of GroupM, the media buying and planning arm of WPP responsible for more than 1/3 of the world’s media buy-
ing. Honored by OMMA Magazine and MediaPost as the 2008 Search Marketing Agency of the Year, GroupM Search employs 600 search marketing strategists globally and
has the largest global footprint of any other search organization with 40 offices serving more than 40 countries. GroupM Search provides industry-leading search marketing
strategies technology development, research, staffing and training to GroupM communications planning agencies through its search divisions including Maxus Search, Me-
Search and diaCom Search, MEC Interaction and MindShare Search, as well as the direct-to-client brands, Outrider, Catalyst Online and Quisma. Our search divisions provide clients
Social Media with the right balance of human intelligence and search technology in order to deliver award-winning paid, organic and advanced search marketing strategies (mobile, social
media, video, local and more) that help our clients become a part of the online conversation. Global search marketing perspective from talent across GroupM Search can be
found on the industry blog, SearchFuel (www.searchfuel.com). URL: www.groupmsearch.com 7
For more information please contact: GroupM Search
Cindy Kerber Spellman 498 Seventh Avenue
Director, Corporate Communications New York, NY 10018 USA
T: +1 314 682 2055 www.groupmsearch.com
A WPP Company